Kalamazoo, MI— The Lakeshore Chinooks fell to the Kalamazoo Growlers, 7-1, on Tuesday night. The loss dropped the Chinooks to 18-17 on the season.
The scoring started early for the Growlers as lead-off hitter Michael Diffley knocked a single and was quickly brought home by a Connor Hollis RBI double.
Unfortunately for the Chinooks, starter, Zach Spears continued struggles in the first inning. After surrendering a single to three-hitter, Jason Sullivan, he attempted a picked off move that sailed out of the reach of Chinooks first baseman, Rylan Thomas, and scored Hollis.
Then, Sullivan scored on a Jeff Riedel RBI single that advanced Charlie Carpenter, the Growler clean-up hitter, to third after he walked earlier in the innings. Before the inning was over, Carpenter, too, scored on a fielder’s choice by Christian Moya. When the third was finally recorded, it was 4-0 Growlers after the first inning.
Spears settled down after that, tossing a scoreless second and third, but he ran into more troubles in the fourth. Well, it was more like one, big and troubling swing. Carpenter unloaded with a three-run bomb that brought home Hollis and Sullivan to make it 7-0 Growlers after the fourth inning.
Spears’ day finished after just 3.2 innings. He finished with 9 hits, 7 runs, 6 earned, 4 walks and one strikeout.
This is the second start in a row Spears has struggled after starting out the season with only 2 earned runs in his first 18 innings, an ERA of 1.00. In his last start against the Wisconsin Woodchucks, Spears surrendered 7 hits, 4 earned runs, and 3 walks while striking out 4 over 51 innings So, his total in his last two starts is 9 innings, 10 earned runs, 7 walks and 4 strikeouts, an ERA of 10.00.
The Chinooks offense finally got on the board in the top of the 8th when Joe Duncan, on a grounder to the Growler shortstop, knocked home Drake Lubin after he singled and wheeled his way to third on a Jack Dunn double.
But, that was the only scoring the Chinooks could muster as Nick Gatewood flew out to right field with the bases loaded to end the eighth and had nothing going, outside an Owen Miller lead-off single, in the ninth.
The good news, the Chinook bullpen continued their streak of dominance. A combination of Nick Campe and Joe Heineman tossed 4.1 scoreless innings.
Over the last 30.1 IP, if you eliminate a rough 4 earned in 0 IP appearance that had no result on a game’s final, the bullpen has allowed 8 earned runs. That's an impressive ERA of 2.37.
The Chinooks are back underway tomorrow when they head back home to Kapco to take on the Rockford Rivets at 6:35. Tomorrow’s listed starter is Marshall Oetting. It will be Oetting’s first start of the summer after he’s been used strictly in a middle to long relief role during his first 19.2 innings. However, Oetting should have no trouble adapting as he's pitched to a 3.78 ERA and worked his way out of plenty of precarious situations.
The Lakeshore Chinooks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 170 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.lakeshorechinooks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Chinooks as your favorite team.